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Old and New Edinburgh Vol. I


he barbarously threw the bodies on a great fire that blazed in the fireplace of the tower; ?and there in their armour they broiled and sweltered like tortoises in iron shells.? Locking the doors, the fugitives hurriedly and stealthily reached the tower-head unseen. The attendant lowered himself down first over the abutting crag, which there is more than zoo feet in height, but the cord proving too short it slipped from his hands, and he fell to the bottom senseless. This must have been a terrible crisis for the blood-stained Albany ! Hurrying back to his now horrible apartment in the tower, he dragged the sheets from his bed, added them to the rope, looped it round an embrasure, and lowered himself safely down over rampart and rock to the bottom, where he found his attendant lying helpless, with a broken thigh Unwilling to leave him to ptrish, Albany, with a sentiment that contrasts singularly with his recent ferocity, raised him on his shoulders, and being a man of unusual strength and Stature, he actually conveyed him to Leith, a distance of two miles; and, when the sun rose, the ship, with Albany, was out on the German sea. Daylight revealed the rope and twisted sheets hanging over the rampart of the tower. An alarm was given, which the dreadful stench from the locked chamber must have increased. The door was opened. Albany was gone, but the half-con- Qumed corpses were found in the fireplace; and James 111. refused to believe in a story so incredible till he had visited the place in person.* Albany fled to England, the king of which refused to deliver him up. Thus war was declared, and James marched from the Burghmuir with $0,000 men and a train of guns, under the master of the ordndnce, a stone-mason, whom, with great impolicy, he had created Earl of Mar. At Lauder the nobles halted; hanged all the king?s minions over the bridge in horse-halters, and disbanded the troops j and then the humbled and luckless James returned to the Castle, where for many months, in 1481, he remained a species of prisoner in the custody of its commanders, the Earls of Athol and Buchan, who,? it has been supposed, would have murdered him in secret had not the Lord Darnley and other loyal barons protected him, by never leaving his chamber unguarded by night or day. There he remained in a species of honourable durance, while near him lay in 3 dungeon the venerable *Earl of Douglas, who scorned to be reconciled, though James, in his humility, made overtures to him. He appealed at last to Lindesay, Diummond, Scott, Buchan, &c. England for aid against his turbulent barons, and Edward IV. (though they had quarrelled about a matrimonial alliance, and about the restoration of Berwick) sent Richard, Duke of Gloucester; north, at .the head of 10,000 auxiliaries, who encamped on the Burghmuir, where the Duke of Albany, who affected a show of loyalty, joined them, at the very time that the rebellious nobles of lames were sitting in council in the Tolbooth. Thither went Albany and Gloucester, the ? crookbacked Dick? of Shakspere and of Bosworth, attended by a thousand gentlemen of both countries, and the parties having come to terms, heralds were sent to the Castle to charge the commander thereof to open the gates and set the king at liberty; after which the royal brothers, over whose fraternisation Pitscottie?s narrative casts some ridicule, rode together, he adds, to Holyrood, ? quhair they remained ane long time in great merrines.? William Bertraham, Provost of Edinburgh, with the whole community of the city, undertook to repay to the king of England the dowry of his daughter the Lady Cecil, and afterwards they fulfilled their obligations by repaying 6,000 merks to the Garter King-at-Arms. In acknowledgment of this loyal service James granted to the city the patent known as its ?Golden Charter,? by which the provost and bailies were created sheriffs of their own boundaries, with other important privileges. Upon the craftsmen he also conferred a banner, said to have been made by the queen and her ladies, still preserved and known popularly as the ? Blue Blanket,? and it was long the rallying point of the Burgher-guard in every war or civic broil. Thus, Jarnes VI., in the ? Basilicon Doron,? points out to Prince Henry-? The craftsmen think we should be content with their work how bad soever it be ; and if in anything they be controuled, up goes the Blue Blanket ! ? This banner, according to Kincaid, is of blue silk, with a white St. Andrew?s cross. It is swallowtailed, measuring in length from the pole ten feet two inches, and in breadth six and a half feet. It bears a thistle crowned, with the mottoes : ?Fear God and honour the King with a long lyffe and a prosperous reigne ; ? and ?? And we that is Trades shall ever pray to be faithful1 for the defence of his sacred Maiesties royal person till Death.? Jarnes 111. was noted about this time for the quantity of treasure, armour, and cannon he had stored up in the Castle, his favourite residence. In David?s Tower stood his famous black kist (probably the same which is now in the Crown room), filled with rare and costly-gems, gold and silver specie, massive plate, and a wonderful C6!-
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lection of glittering jewels, of which Tytler gives the list. In the ?inventory? of the Jewel House are mentioned five relics of Robert Bruce, viz., four silver goblets and a shirt of mail, ?King Robert?s serk,? as it is written. Among his cannon were two great French curtalds, forty-six other pieces of various calibre, and sixteen fieldwaggons, with a vast quantity of military stores of every description. . The quarrels between James and his arrogant nobles deepened day by day. At last, says Godscroft,. a story went abroad that it was proposed to invite them all to a banquet in the great hall of the Castle, and there cut them off root and branch ! This startling rumour led to others, and all culminated in the battle of Sauchieburn, where James perished, under the dagger of an assassin, on the 8th of June, 1488-a monarch who, more than any other of the Stuarts, contributed towards the permanent prosperity of the Scottish metropolis. ?By favour of his charters its local jurisdiction was left almost exclusively in the hands of its own magistrates; on them were conferred ample powers for enacting laws for its governance, with authority in life and death-still vested in its chief magistrate-an independence which was afterwards defended amid many dangers down to the period of the Union. By his charters, also in their favour, they obtained the right, which they still hold, to all the customs of the haven and harbour of Leith, with the proprietorship of the adjacent coast, and all the roads leading thereto.? On the accession of James IV., in his boyhood, he sent a herald from Leith to demand the surrender of the Castle, and a commission consisting of the Lord High Treasurer, Sir Wi11;am Knowles (afterwards slain at Flodden), and others, took over all the personal property of the late king. The inventory taken on this occasion, according to Tytler, affords a pleasing and favourable idea of the splendour of the Scottish court in those days. In the treasurer?s accounts we have many curious entries concerning the various Scottish harpers, fiddlers, and English pipers, that performed here to amuse James IV. ?July 10, 1489 ; to Inglish pyparis that cam to the Caste1 yet and p1.ayit to the king, viij lib. viij s,? During the reign of the chivalrous and splendid James 1V.-who was crowned at Kelso-Edinburgh became celebrated throughout all Europe as the scene of knightly feats. The favourite place for the royal tournaments was a spot of ground just below the Cast16 rock, and near the king?s stables. There, James in particular, assembled the nobles by prwlamation, for jousting, offering such meeds of honour as a golden-headed lance, or similar favours, presented by his own hand or that of some beautiful woman. Knights came from all countries to take part in these jousts; ?bot,? says Pitscottie, ?few or none of thame passed away unmatched, and oftimes overthrowne.? One notable encounter, witnessed by the king from the Castle wall, took place in 1503, when a famous cavalier of the Low Countries, named by Pitscottie Sir John Cochbevis, challenged the .best knight in Scotland to break a spear, or meet him d outrancc in combat to the death. Sir Patrick Hamilton of the house of Arran took up his challenge. Amid a vast concourse, they came to the barriers, lanced, horsed, and clad in .tempered mail, with their emblazoned shields hung round their necks. At sound of trumpet they rushed to the shock, and splintered their spears fairly. Fresh ones were given them, but as Hamilton?s horse failed him, they drew their two-handed swords, and encountered on foot. They fought thus ?for a full hour, till the Dutchman being struck to the ground,? the king cast his plumed bonnet over the wall to stay the combat, while the heralds and trumpeters proclaimed the Scottish knight victorious. But the court of James was distinguished for other things than the science of war, for during his brilliant reign Edinburgh became the resort of men high in every department of science and art; and the year 1512 saw the Provost of St. Giles?s, Gavin Douglas, translating Virgil?s ?Bneid? into Scottish verse. In the Castle there resided, about 1503, Lady Margmet Stuart, the daughter of James, by Margaret Drummond of that ilk, whom he is said to have married clandestinely, and who was removed by some Scottish conspirators ?? to . make way for a daughter of England,? as an old historian has i t She was poisoned, together with her two sisters; and in August, 1503, ?the daughter of England? duly came in the person of Margaret Tudor, whose marriage to James at Edinburgh was conducted with great splendour and much rejoicing. In 1509 James employed his master gunner, Robert Borthwick, to cast a set of brass ordnance for the Castle, all of which were inscribed -Mmfim sum, Scofo Borfhwick Eizbricafa, Roberto. Seven of these were named by James ? the sisters,? being remarkable for their beauty and size. Borthc wick also cast within the Castle the bells that now hang in the cathedral of St. Magnus at Kirkwall ?
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